Like other countries in East Africa, transport in Uganda is greatly developing. With good road networks being established upcountry you no longer need a lot of days to travel around the country. Growing bus companies are making it easier to traverse around Pearl of Africa helping domestic and international tourists to easily connect to the East African community in Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi and Tanzania. The country has got both short-distance and long-distance bus companies.
Short distance bus companies include;
Pioneer Bus company, Awakula Enume among others. These drive around the capital city and
neighbouring towns of Entebbe, Wakiso and Mukono. Transport fares start at 1000 UGSHS. This is a quarter a dollar.
Long-distance bus companies include;
Uganda Post Bus (Transports post office letters, parcels and passengers), YY Coaches and courier services (Operates on Kampala – Mbale route), Easy Coaches, Elgon Flyer Ltd (Transports passengers and luggage),Galaxy Buses, Horizon Coaches, Nile Coach Bus service, Zawadi Bus service, Link Bus services, KK Travel, Kalita Coaches Ltd, Nile Coach Services, Regional Coaches, Queens Coach Ltd, Lol Express, Modern Coast Express Ltd (operates on routes between Kampala and Mombasa), Jaguar Executive Coaches Ltd (operates on only routes between Uganda and Rwanda),Friend Safaris (operates on routes between Uganda and Tanzania), Onatracom Bus (operates between Rwanda and Kampala),Gateway Bus Service Ltd (operates on routes between along the Kampala, Nairobi via Malaba and Busia) among others.
With over 37 national roads in Uganda, buses are able to connect to various towns and rural areas using routes like; Kampala Northern bypass Highway, Kampala-Jinja Highway, Entebbe – Kampala Expressway, Gayaza – Zirobwe Road, Matuga – Kapeka Road, Kabale – Kisoro Road, Kabarole-Kisoro Road, Gulu-Nimule Road, Mbarara Northern Bypass Road, Hoima-Kaiso-Tonya Road, Vura-Oraba Road, Hoima-Wanseko Road, Moroto-Nakapiripiriti Road,Mbarara-Kikagati Road among others.
Different from the yesteryears, Uganda has established various bus terminals and taxi parks. In the capital city, there is a combination of both long and short distance taxi parks.
According to www.ugandatouroperators.org Discover Uganda Magazine on page 12, “The best way to get around Kampala and the neighbouring towns is by using minibus-type public taxis or matatus. This is the most efficient and cost-effective method of transportation in Kampala and other towns. The fares are normally written on the display boards placed on the roofs of the vans. Alternatively, it is recommended asking other passengers what the fare to your destination is to avoid being overcharged by the conductors.
There are also private taxis, which are known to the locals as special hire taxis. They are also available within Kampala and other major towns.
Towns in Uganda include; Mbale Town, Mbarara Town, Tororo Town, Kabale Town, Jinja Town, Gulu Town, Arua Town, Entebbe Town, Fortortal Town, Hoima Town, Lira Town, Kalangala Town, Kasese Town, Soroti Town, Masaka Town, Masaka Town, Masindi Town, Moroto Town among others. Short distance taxi parks accommodate taxis that move passengers to different points in the city and residential places around Kampala. Such taxi parks include; Katooke taxi park located in the suburb of Bwaise. Taxi parks with a mixture of both long and short distance taxis include; New taxi park located near Mukwano Shopping mall and Old Taxi Park located near Mega Standard supermarket in the city centre.
Public Taxis or matatus are vehicles licensed to carry 14 passengers; they have square/rectangle stripes around them normally in blue colour. However, you can also come across matatus with purple stripes though rarely. Airport special hire taxis have square stripes in black colour. Note: The rectangle/square stripes indicate commercial passenger vehicle.
Drive around in Cabs locally known as “special hires” which park at fresh food markets like Wandegeya Market, shopping centres like Gaza Land, Ntinda shopping centres among others. There is an option for requesting one on the Uber app or Taxify app. Some of the special hire taxis are metered while others are not. Those requested on apps are all metered.
Due to traffic jam especially in the morning and evening hours, you can hand signal a motorcycle locally known as “bodaboda”, or “Boda b”. These reach to all corners of the city and are all over the streets of Kampala and other Ugandan towns. The wave of digital transformation has not discriminated Uganda, you can order for a bodaboda in your room, office or anywhere you are in Kampala from your mobile phone using applications like Safe Boda and Uber Boda which are metered.
However, if you want to experience price bargaining then go for an ordinary bodaboda (it’s fun). The ordinary boda-bodas are easily identified from those requested on mobile phone applications. The boda-bodas got on mobile apps like Safe Boda, Uber Boda have a primary key (number) and company name labelled on their jackets and helmets for easy identification.
Like in Kampala, boda-bodas can also be seen in the streets of upcountry towns. It’s a growing business for the youths in Uganda.
Welcome to the Pearl of Africa. Feel at home.
Ssebugwawo Jackson is the Manager at Adventure Selfie Tours and Travel LTD